Asia Tail is an artist, curator, and arts administrator based in Tacoma, Washington. Her studio practice focuses on oil painting, but also includes collage, beadwork, and other media. Most recently, Asia co-curated yəhaw̓ with Tracy Rector and Satpreet Kahlon, a year-long project culminating in the inaugural exhibition at Seattle Office Of Arts & Culture’s King Street Station featuring work by over 200 Indigenous creatives.
Asia has received two grants from Artist Trust, a GAP grant in 2015 and a 2019 Fellowship award – the new Vadon Foundation Native Artist Fellowship. This Fellowship is a $10,000 award for Native artists presented in partnership with the Vadon Foundation, a Seattle-based foundation committed to sustaining healthy thriving Indigenous nations.
Asia shared, “Honestly, getting the award felt amazing, but it also made me feel guilty, especially coming out of a project like yəhaw̓ that is so centered in Indigenous values of inclusivity and collective impact. Knowing how many incredible Indigenous artists there are working in our region who deserve an award as much or more than I do, it felt strange to be selected, especially after having been on the other side so many times as the person who usually isn’t.”
That feeling of guilt pushed Asia to make an unprecedented decision: Asia, an Indigenous artist who knows first-hand the significance of support, inclusivity, and community in the journey of an artist, decided to share half of her award with thirteen Native artists between the ages of 16-21.
“After meeting so many amazing Native artists through yəhaw̓, especially the young people bravely stepping up, it made sense to share the award money – just as others have shared opportunities and resources with me. I think yəhaw̓ has embedded in me a sense of responsibility to other Indigenous people. How to actually live out the yəhaw̓ values of responsibility and reciprocity in daily life is still something I’m figuring out, failing plenty of times, but trying to fail forward when I can. Ultimately, everything I have, anything I learn, it belongs to my community.”
Meet the thirteen Native artists – where they’re from, their tribal affiliation, and their practice. From top left:
Amber Wilson, Fort McDermott Paiute-Shoshone, Lakewood, WA – Music
Abigail Pierson, Cowlitz, Olympia, WA – Digital contemporary Salish design
Alexander Melrose, Blackfoot / Sioux, Seattle, WA – Drawing and painting
Erin Rosalie Tail, Lakota / Northern Cheyenne / Cherokee, Tacoma, WA – Poetry, beadwork, and textiles
Eli Tail, Lakota / Northern Cheyenne / Cherokee, Tacoma, WA – Filmmaking, photography, painting, writing, and illustration
Joseph Aleck, Taloquiaht/Swinomish, Seattle, WA – Painting, music, and creative writing
Delany Dharaseang, Salish, Seattle, WA – Painting
Nataanii Nez Cottier, Oglala and Sicangu Lakota, Seattle, WA – Multimedia, acrylic painting, collage, and fiber arts
Sonrisa Barron, Mississippi Choctaw, Olympia, WA – Drawing, painting, beading, and weaving
Namaka Auwae, Mixed Native Hawaiian, Seattle, WA – Poetry and creative writing
Aiyanna Stitt, Choctaw, Olympia, WA – Acrylic painting, music, curation
Priscidia Angel McCarty (Self-portrait), Makah and Tsaout, Olympia, WA – Charcoal, markers, watercolor, acrylics, carving, jewelry, and beading
Inanna McCarty, Makah, Olympia, WA – Acrylic and oil painting, beadwork, drums (deer hide), cedar, fine prints
Artist Trust is blown away and genuinely moved by Asia’s decision. We are proud that she is part of our community and excited to see what these young artists go on to accomplish. So, what’s next for Asia and this project?
“The first meeting of the recipients was last weekend, and the young people came up with some really great ideas. I’m partnering with them and with Kimberly Corinne Deriana to actualize youth-designed programs with the support of an Innovative Grant from the City of Tacoma. We have more planning to do, but the group decided that their programming would center on healing through re-connecting with Indigeneity and processes for personal reconciliation. They want to create opportunities for other young Indigenous people to feel a sense of belonging. There will be a series of talking circles/working sessions leading to a culminating arts event in April. They’re especially eager to bring in opportunities to learn about music, mental health, Queer and Two Spirit pride, nature walks and medicine gathering, activism, silk screening, and traditional foods, languages, and protocols.
I also have a residency coming up at Centrum, where I am excited to reinvest in my personal art-making practice, and I will have some other plans rolling out through the fall.”
We can’t wait for what’s next and invite you to join Asia for a Visual Artist Workshop on October 20th at the One Heart Native Arts & Film Festival in Spokane. Learn more: http://oneheartfestival.org/